Songs and Memories

12 Aug

I started writing this post two months ago (the “this morning” referenced was actually in June).  I put it aside because I thought it was just silly.  It is.  But it’s MY silly.  So I’m finishing it.  Because I feel like sharing.  If you’re not in the mood for gratuitous and silly sharing, you can ignore it completely. 🙂

This morning on the way to work I heard Katy Perry’s “Firework.”  I love this song.  So much more than I did when I first heard it.  That’s because it happened to be on the radio on the last day of my temp job in February, as I was driving away.  I managed to hold it together through the day, and was about three miles into the drive home when the song started.  I’d heard it before but didn’t really listen to the words until that moment.  I can remember the second – where exactly I was on that drive and when exactly it was in the song – that I started crying.  I bawled all the way home.  I loved that job and held out hope until the last that they’d find a position for me.  It was suddenly all over and I was drifting again in a sea of uncertainty.  But the words to the song – “Maybe the reason why/ all the doors are closed/ is to open one that leads you to the perfect road” – really spoke to me.  Cheesy I know.  But powerful.  And true, for me.  Not three months later, I started my new job.  I’ve been here for a month now and – dare I say it? – it’s better than the other one.  In those three months I was able to grow my company, too, and losing daytime employment made it happen.  It was an opportunity I might not have otherwise made for myself.

This started me thinking about certain songs and their significance in my memories, especially at very significant times of my life.  Whenever I watch Glee and my husband laughs about how people don’t really sing random songs to express their feelings…  I think, “but I do!”  I realize just how much I measure my life by music.  Yes, this is going to be mostly a post for myself, so if you’re looking for a new recipe, you probably want to check out now… ;).

  • “Stop in the Name of Love” – Carissa and Johanna and I made up a whole dance to this song in the 2nd grade.  On the playground.  Yeah, we were cool.
  • “Straight Up” – Yes, I was a huge Paula Abdul fan when I was 10…  My best friend at the time, Julia, loved her.  So I did too.  I remember very clearly learning every word of this song, and learning how to do the “kit’n’play” dance move to it in Julia’s bedroom!
  • “November Rain” – This also makes me think so much of Julia and being a pre-teen!  Loved this song.  Love this song.
  • “Just Kickin’ It” – I have a very clear, very specific memory of “kickin’ it” with Julia at my sister’s 1st Communion party.  Yeah, we were cool.
  • “End of the Road” – This song played at the end of every.single.dance from Junior High onward.  But I have a very specific memory of it playing at the Army/Navy Academy formal I went to with several friends in the 7th grade.  It was the first time we’d gotten all decked out, with makeup and heels, to go to a dance.  We felt so grown up!
  • “Nothin’ But the Taillights” – For some stupid reason I remember very clearly that this song was playing during our car accident when I was 14.  I still can’t listen to it without getting sort of freaked out because I feel the acceleration of the car and hear the sound of metal on metal.
  • “Take a Bow” – The words to this song aren’t important at all.  Only that the first time I heard it I was laying in the bed in the little room at my grandma’s house, recovering.  At the time I wasn’t really supposed to be moving much at all without my brace on, but luckily I had a ton of books and a radio.  I loved the harmonies when I heard them and still remember feeling annoyed to be stuck but at least enjoying the music.  I remember singing harmony to this song the first time I heard it, just because I could hear where it was going to be going.  Nerdy?  Why yes!
  • “The World I Know” – Cathy’s 16th birthday.  We got scared witless by her brother and fell asleep in front of MTV.  At 4 in the morning I woke up to this song.
  • “I Believe I Can Fly” – High school Winter Formal, Junior year, dancing with the guy who would later become my boyfriend.  I’d known him for something like 5 years at that point, we were good friends (soon to become “best” friends) and sort of had a crush on him.  I’d barely worked up the nerve to ask him to the dance with me and this was about the only song we really slow-danced to.  This song was when he realized he liked me too (even though he wouldn’t say anything for over a year).  For a while after we broke up I simply refused to listen to it.  Trust me, the way things worked out between us was for the best (and we’re finally friends again), and I still am not a huge fan of the song, but when I do hear it I can’t help but feel like I’m 16 again, just for a minute or two.
  • “There’s a Light” (from Rocky Horror Picture Show) – Junior year in high school my friends showed me this movie.  I was scandalized.  If you knew me back then…  I was totally sweet and innocent.  I was pretty much horrified but over time grew to love it.  This song, though, was the only one I had stomach for at that age.
  • “All I Ask Of You” (from Phantom of the Opera) – Fadi and I sang this for a wedding of one of his high school teachers.  Whenever I hear it I miss my drama geek buddy!
  • “1999” – New Year’s, freshman year of college.  I’d gone up to visit the then-boyfriend at his parents’ house.  Yes, it was 1999!
  • “I Could Not Ask for More” – The first time I heard this was the very first day of Orientation during the summer after my freshman year of college.  I was an Orientation Leader (OL) and we had to get up and go at the crack of dawn.  I was in the suite where I’d lived for the whole year, but not in my old room (we were randomly assigned).  A picture of my then-boyfriend (for, um, a few more weeks?) was on the dresser, next to my alarm clock, but the rest of the room was austere, since I would only be there for just under two weeks.  This song came on with my alarm clock at 5 that morning and I laid in bed listening to it.  I guess it’s not all that odd of a chord progression but at the time I just loved how unexpected it was.
  • “I Want it That Way” – I know.  It’s a truly truly awful song.  Seriously.  But it was all the rage during my freshman year of college and it was all over Orientation that year.  Every time I hear it I’m in the OLs’ suite, geeking out with Cristina.
  • “Always” (by Atlantic Star) – Singing an impromptu duet with Lyndon in my Sophomore apartment, the day of our Gospel Choir performance on TV.  A bunch of us were messing around, singing random songs in my room.  As we were leaving to go to dinner or something, my roommates came out of their rooms and asked who’d been singing the duet because it was awesome! 🙂  (Also, since almost every guy on this list was a crush of mine, I feel the need to qualify this – there are no romantic feelings attached to this memory and Lyndon and I are still good friends and singing buddies…  In fact we auditioned for The X Factor together and I’m in his band…  Just wanted to make that clear, though, since this is a love song – it’s just darn good fun to sing with him!)
  • “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” – I apologize profusely to the friend I had a major crush on in college.  He may or may not have known (but I was probably pretty obvious about it).  If he’s reading this, he certainly knows now!  We were driving in the car during Orientation and sang this as a duet.  This was before I realized I was very much not his type.  Like, 180 degrees away from his type.  Again, profusely apologize.  And blush with embarrassment at how silly I was.  But this does make me think of him fondly!
  • “Boyz in the Hood” – the alternative rock version of this song always makes me think of Orientation too.  Lots of memories there, I guess.  It was after the three Coordinators found out some major stuff…  And we were processing it in the car.  I’ve lost touch with Robbie and Susan but at that moment they were my brother and sister, and we were driving in Robbie’s car.  The words to the song were completely irrelevant to us but we were angry and sang them out!
  • “Still the One” – Driving in Los Angeles in Erin’s mustang convertible, singing our guts out with Lynn and Neva.  This was the week after we met.  I am still amazed at everything about that week, and how close we were, already.  This was also the night we shared a pitcher of margaritas at the Mexican Restaurant and told the waitress (falsely) that one of us had just broken up with our boyfriend and we needed a private area so we could be loud and obnoxious! 🙂
  • “Bigger Than My Body” – Whenever I hear this song, I’m in an alley in Los Angeles, standing thisclose to and having a conversation with John Mayer.  No, really.  It’s a pretty cool memory, even though you can only see the top of my head for two seconds in the music video.
  • Name retracted to protect the innocent.  Let’s just say I have a very specific memory of a very sweet boy who made fun of a singer I really liked at the time, and I didn’t really realize that there was probably more to his making fun of things until much, much later, and every time I hear the song he made fun of I think of him.  Again, the way things turned out was definitely for the better but I can’t help but remember being 23!
  • “Take Me As I Am” (from Jekyll and Hyde) – This also conjures a specific memory of a specific (different) boy, whose name is also retracted to protect the innocent.  Let’s just say that there was a lot of flirting and a date-that-may-not-have-been-a-real-date (the jury is still out and probably always will be), but that this was one of his favorite songs at the time.  Also, the boy from the song-that-will-not-be-named was really protective of me about this boy (and, perhaps, a little jealous?).  I actually think that, more than anything, I remember being 23 and single when I hear this song.  Fondly, but not longingly.  Being single and wondering whether this boy or that boy was actually interested really kind of sucked, but the feeling of being young and having so many possibilities in life was sort of fun.
  • “Beautiful Disaster” (the slow live version) – I just realized how many of my musical memories are about boys.  And the last three are from the same year of my life.  Apparently I was boy crazy that year?  This one wasn’t one I heard with the boy.  But it was one I’ll forever associate with him.  Following the amazingly fun weekend I spent with a friend-of-a-friend with whom I was set up.  Great chemistry.  Un-great circumstances.  That song was in my head for weeks before I realized why.  Funny aside – he met my husband just before my husband proposed to me…  And they got along great.  Considering that “the” weekend was only a month before I met my husband, I felt a little awkward about the whole thing, though!
  • “Accidentally In Love” – Erin and I were in the car, on our way to Vegas for my American Idol auditions.  Both of us were thinking of relationships that were too early to call.  Both of us are still in those relationships now!
  • “The Middle” – I was looking and looking for a job.  This was 2005, so jobs were actually plentiful (shortly after the moment I remember when I hear this song, I was offered three jobs in one week!).  But I was frustrated and feeling lost.  This song got me through a very hard week.
  • “Falling” (by Keri Noble) – This song, like “Beautiful Disaster,” would not get out of my head for weeks, until I realized that the words were what was stuck in my head.  The following week I told my husband I loved him for the first time.
  • “Defying Gravity” – This takes me back to finally leaping into the decision to leave my last full time job right away after my transition discussion.  That was a remarkably difficult weekend but I made the right decision.
  • “Hope It Gives You Hell” – Long story.  Very personal.  But it makes me feel good about where I am, what I’m doing, and how far I’ve come.
Am I the only person I know who has such a strong personal connection to music?  I can be sitting in a restaurant or the car or my office and feel myself slipping back years, see the scene in front of me, feel everything that was going on when these songs first made an impression upon me.  This continues to happen (the last song in my list has been around for a while but the specific moment I remember is from just a few months ago), and I literally can’t help it.  I suppose it’s nice to be reminded of past events.  But it’s definitely a strange feeling!
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